MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. -- Eleventh Marine Expeditionary Unit families will soon be eligible to receive childcare vouchers intended to provide relief to mothers or fathers while their spouses are deployed.
The vouchers can only be used to pay for childcare at the Camp Pendleton Fischer Center for children 11-years-old and younger. Vouchers will be issued per child, for one visit lasting up to four hours.
However, cash redemption of the vouchers will also be available for families interested in alternative childcare providers. A designated Marine Corps Community Services check cashing facility will be written on the front of each voucher where it can be exchanged for $12.
Exchange locations here include: The 13 Area Country Store, 14 Area Deluz, 31 Area Stuart Mesa, 20 Area Wire Mountain, 21 Area Del Mar, and 51 Area Seaside Plaza.
The vouchers are part of a support, according to Kathleen Benjamin, assistant family readiness officer, I Marine Expeditionary Force. Benjamin discussed the program with 11th MEU Marines and their families during a Command Element family readiness pre-deployment brief Jan. 22.
Congress authorized the funding in support of troops deployed to Bosnia and Southwest Asia. The new deployment support block fund is broken down into five categories: the acquisition of computers with email and internet access, electronic recreation equipment, athletic and fitness recreation equipment, childcare vouchers and local tours and recreational activities for servicemembers while deployed.
Child Development Centers aboard Camp Pendleton also received funding for childcare in response to the growing number of requests for relief of payments. In most cases, they are the direct result of a servicemember being deployed, according to a message from the Assistant Chief of Staff, Marine Corps Community Services, Marine Corps Base, Camp Pendleton. The centers will determine which families qualify for the vouchers on a case-by-case basis.
?It?s absolutely a good move. I think we?re doing all we can do as leaders to make deployments as easy (for the families) as we can,? SgtMaj. Ernest Matkin, Command Element sergeant major, 11th MEU, said.
The initial deployment support block is intended for immediate use by 11th MEU, which is currently slated to deploy to the Arabian Gulf and Pacific Regions this year. The remaining blocks will be used by the 13th and 15th MEUs during later deployments.
?A deployment is tough on everyone,? Matkin said. ?It doesn?t matter if it?s your first or eighth. We all know (as senior Marines) how young Marines and their families feel, and it?s our job to take care of them.?
Details of the distribution and qualifications for the vouchers are currently being finalized, and the 11th MEU Command Element expects to move forward with the program within the upcoming month.